Re: King of the moon

From: Chuck Murcko (
Date: Thu Apr 19 2001 - 14:46:11 PDT

The US tests in the 60s tripped circuit breakers in Hawaii from out over
Johnston Island:


has time lapse pictures from Honolulu:

9:00 9 July 1962 (GMT)

This was the second attempt to launch the Starfish test. The original
Starfish was launched on 20 June, but the Thor missile engine cut out
only 59 seconds after launch. The range safety officer sent the destruct
signal 65 seconds after launch, and the missile was destroyed at
30-35,000 ft. The warhead high explosive detonated in 1-point safe
fashion, destroying the warhead without producing nuclear yield. Large
pieces of the missile fell back on Johnston Island, and more wreckage
along with plutonium contamination was found on nearby Sand Island.

Starfish Prime was successful. The Thor missile carried the test
instrumentation and the W-49 warhead/Mk-4 RV payload to 248 miles. The
test appeared quite spectacular from Hawaii (800 miles away) and at
Kwajalein (1600 miles away), with impressive light displays from an
artifical aurora lasting up to seven minutes. The electromagnetic pulse
(EMP) from this test sent power line surges throughout Oahu, knocking
out street lighting, blowing fuzes and circuit breakers, and triggering
burglar alarms.

The W-49 warhead used in this test was used on the Thor, Atlas, Jupiter,
and Titan missiles, and was a descendant of the versatile Mk-28
thermonuclear bomb.
On Thursday, April 19, 2001, at 08:08 AM, Eugene Leitl wrote:

> On Thu, 19 Apr 2001, Rodent of Unusual Size wrote:
>> I said 'uncontested,' not 'incontestable.' As for Nukes In Space,
>> the physical effects are fairly useless, yes -- but the EMP
>> would not be (at least against other small-mass unatmosphered
> I have no exact idea what might happen, as EMP is created by sharp
> decceleration of charged particles, created in the nuke fireball.
> Because
> there's no atmosphere, the charged particles will be deccelerated very
> suddenly by material bulk instead of relatively slowly in the upper
> layers
> of the atmosphere as in NEMP (if you're close, you'll see some explosive
> evaporation (ablation) of the surface layer which absorbs the xrays; if
> you're really really close this will generate considerable, but very
> brief
> forces, with enough mass you won't notice much -- if you're biological
> at
> this close range you'll want to have heavy shielding, anyway. Optional,
> if
> you're solid state to start with).
> So I'm not sure about EMP (which can be hardened against, anyway).
> Moreover, the bulk of targets will be on the average quite remote from
> ground zero, and will see less impact than natural variation in the
> solar
> wind background. Moreover, they'll see the warhead coming, and have time
> to intercept with a kinetic kill, or turn it into plasma with a beam
> weapon.
>> targets). And nukes have nothing to do with the superiourity
>> of an asteroid-mounted battle platform; the gravity well
> Naw, not asteroid mounted. You mine the asteroid, and generate a large
> cloud of hardware in a volume ~lightsecond across. That way you have
> large
> crossection at low hardware concentration, giving you intrinsic
> protection
> (spatial distribution, active perimeter protection), good insolation for
> power production and large aperture for phased-array beam focusing.
>> differential does. And how. Heinlein really only touched on
> Actually, if you disassemble a 100 km rock and turn it into gossamer
> metal
> reflectors, you can just fry Earth's surface. Ditto with microwaves.
>> first-order impact effects in 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress;'
>> the second-order atmospheric effects of multikilotonne masses
>> arriving at astronomical velocities would probably be far greater
>> and farther-reaching, both on the x/y/z and t axes. 'Hot Fudge
>> Sundae falls on a Tuesday this week.'
> Yeah, it would be best to no piss off the space types. It's like playing
> sitting duck to an army of snipers.

Chuck Murcko
Topsail Group

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